"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone."
The reason to the above statement is well proven by Chan-wook Park's 2003 film, 'Oldboy'. What's the story about? The story is about an average man, who "is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shabby cell for 15 years without explanation. He then is released, equipped with money, a cellphone and expensive clothes. As he strives to explain his imprisonment and get his revenge, Oh Dae-Su soon finds out that his kidnapper has a greater plan for him and is set onto a path of pain and suffering in an attempt to uncover the motive of his mysterious tormentor." (www.imdb.com)
The plot does not reveal itself from the beginning. It is indeed one of those well weave-plotted stories that it will come to light little by little leave very little time to the viewer to react and digest what'd just happened in the story-line. With an amazingly cleverly written script, the themes of vengeance, paranoia, psychosis, freedom and self-awareness are made possible into the big screen.
When first watching this film, the viewer might not even grasp two fifths of what really is going on. So a second and third watch would be advisable. Park make's sure that the more closely you look into the story, the more entanglements you will realize there are. Besides the "killer" narrative of the plot, Park entrusted his camera crew with the creation of a world full of psycho-bizarre elements and giving subtle but also aesthetically beautiful hints on the film noir genre.
'Oldboy' is specifically placing its hopes on the story line, the exquisite cinematography and the well adapted performance by lead actor Min-sik Choi. His role echoes that of Guy Pearce's in Memento, but Min-sik Choi gives another sour taste to what could happen to a man who's freedom and his whole reality is turned upside down. Psychosis and paranoia are among the twisted emotions that one will get out of watching his character closely. Painful emotions are what collide with trying to make sense of what the character should and what he must do to survive in a world that others have placed him in.
The performances are top-notch, to say the least, but what really grabs the audience is the retribution of both the leading characters and the plot itself. Park does not fully prepare the viewer for the horrors that will have to faced once the truth unfolds, but let's them question on the motives and the moral integrity of how the characters act.
'Oldboy' is nowadays hailed as a cult classic; not so much for its stylistic performance but also for the very intricate cinematography and technical aspects in general. The way the camera-work relates to the psychological factor of the main character's actions is one of the best, and well-enhanced frame-works in the film industry.
With quite a few infusions of action moments and a very paranoid and also stoic script, 'Oldboy' manages to shock and captivate even the most demanding cinema-goers.
Watch it with mates, whilst in the mood to be blown-away and let your mind run wild whilst watching it, as the possibilities are endless!
Enjoy the film!